‘Felony’ smear springs from Obama’s business ignorance

Gary Shapiro President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
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The Obama campaign’s latest line of attack is to suggest that Mitt Romney committed a felony by lying about his involvement with Bain Capital during the three-year period between 1999 and 2002 when he was running the Salt Lake City Olympics. Romney has always said — and continues to say — that while he retained the title of “managing director” of Bain during his stint running the Olympics, he had no operational control over the company during that time. But the Obama campaign insists otherwise. On the July 15 broadcast of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said, “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments.”

Cutter’s cowardly “either/or” scenario has been refuted by FactCheck.org, Fortune, The Washington Post, CNN and Politico. Simply put, while Mitt Romney was running the Salt Lake City Olympics, he had zero operational control over Bain.

The Obama camp’s absurd claim that Romney committed a felony reflects the fundamental problem with the Obama administration’s approach to business: President Obama and his advisers do not understand how businesses operate. They lack the business experience necessary to understand how to create jobs in a down economy.

The Obama administration has the smallest percentage of top officials with business experience of any administration in recent U.S. history. What’s more, I believe, as do many others, that it has been the most anti-business administration in my lifetime. Indeed, the White House official responsible for interacting with the business community, Valerie Jarrett, has been instructed to cut off all communication with business leaders, according to the book “The Right Fights Back,” written by Politico’s Mike Allen and Newsweek’s Evan Thomas.

The Obama administration even composed an “enemies list,” the first presidential list of the sort since Nixon, which includes eight reputable businessmen who the administration is targeting simply because they are big Romney donors. Why would the president of the United States, the land of the American Dream, call a job creator an “enemy”?

This all boils down to Obama’s lack of business familiarity. Is it any wonder that someone who lacks business experience and distrusts businesspeople would mistake a normal business decision for a felony?

This lack of business familiarity has resulted in serious harm to businesses and the economy. Faced with a hostile president and an uncertain future, businesses have simply stopped hiring. The day after Governor Romney is elected, new jobs will be created.

This is not just my opinion. In late June, Consumer Electronics Association Chairman Randy Fry, who co-owns Fry’s Electronics, which has 35 retail stores in 10 states, said that he would not open more stores and expand his chain if Obama is re-elected. He expects to expand if Romney is elected. If this isn’t a statement about whether electing Romney would create more jobs than re-electing Obama would, I don’t know what is. And I believe strongly that Mr. Fry’s views are shared by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of business leaders across America.

Our economy is in trouble for lots of reasons, but foremost among them is that our nation is led by a president who views business as the enemy.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.” Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.